Agápe Lodge finally has a new roof! Wiegand Roofing did a fine job of repairing and replacing the entire roof. Now we are pricing siding and trim options for the entire building. We replaced the screens in the loft windows to prevent people from walking on the roof. As a note, groups will be fined $100 per incident for being on the roof. We had a donation of new windows for the rear of the building by a friend of our son, so those will start being installed in August.
The past year was another difficult year at Agápe where we had to come to the realization that the dream of repairing the roof so that it allowed for increased height in most interior rooms and a better slope for maintenance is not going to happen. Too many hurdles with zoning and building departments, combined with the advice of yet another contractor in the area left us at square one. So, the good news is that we hired Wiegand Roofing to repair and shingle the existing structure. That process should start at the end of the month.
When the roof is finished, we will be able to start interior repairs to ceilings. Then move on to exterior siding as we can afford it. When we get the west end of the building sided, we can repair the bathroom walls that have been damaged by water.
We have been blessed with several groups coming in May and June. July and August are traditionally 'unpopular' months at Agápe, so we hope to use this time to get the interior repairs finished before the busy fall season starts.
The day after Christmas began our third trip to Mississippi. We took a group from Frankfort United Methodist Church down to Gulfport for four days of roofing and drywalling. We joined a large group from West Virginia and another small family group from Sunbury, Ohio. Along with three gals from West Virginia, Cheryl and our two daughters staffed the Volunteer Center kitchen for the week and prepared meals for the 120 volunteers staying at Gateway UMC. Our "Agápe bus" enjoys being in mission and didn't give us a bit of trouble in the 1800 miles. Due to the large number of volunteers that week staying at the church, the bus hosted three new friends from Buffalo, NY, for a few nights of rest. Our group arrived back in Ohio on New Year's Eve in time for everyone to get to their respective party.
During this trip to MS, we re-kindled our friendship with Rev. and Mrs. Elijah Mitchell. We want to keep their mission church in our prayers: Seashore Mission, a United Methodist church in Biloxi, MS, that was totally destroyed by Hurricane Katrina with six people trapped in the church losing their lives in the storm.
With the help of our son, we replaced 500' of water line supplying Agápe Lodge and the Skye Cottage. In this project, we added a frost-free faucet below the Fern Cottage to supply water to the Gazebo Meadow recreation area.
Keith spent time getting some peripheral estimates for the roof repair and looking for a bigger truck to help with the transportation of debris, trees, and building matrerials. So, it looks like a 1974 Dodge grain truck will be added to the Agápe fleet.
With the cost of gas, it became apparent that the old motorcycle may help save some money on travel to and from camp. So, the license is on and the insurance is back in effect.
Work crews are needed to clean out the bathrooms under the Skye Cottage. The frozen pipes are going to be replaced ASAP. The roof of the Fern Cottage and the water line from the original well up the road to Skye Cottage needs to have a leak located and repaired.
Enough for now. Keep Agape Retreat Center in your prayers as we are still trying to get the paperwork done to start on the roof repair.
During June we were able to get one end of the barn near Peace Cottage repaired. The lawn tractors got some routine and not so routine maintenance. The front loader on the utility tractor took about a month and a half to diagnose, order parts, and repair.
The middle two weeks of May found Cheryl, Keith and our friend Kezia returning to Mississippi to help with the relief efforts for Katrina hurricane survivors. We were fortunate to find a need at the U.M.C.O.R. Regional Disaster Office. Here we met Rev. Elijah Mitchell and his wife Miriam who are coordinating the efforts of the Mississippi coast area. This is a 24/7 operation. Volunteers are needed and are arriving constantly and work is being completed on each stage of the recovery. Some houses still need to be taken apart before the rebuilding begins. Some are ready for electric repairs as the salt water damaged every electical device from the wires to the outlets to the computers. Roofing, plumbing, drywall, flooring, cabinets and every other detail that make a house ready to move in are needed on one house or the other. And there are thousands of houses in need of help. This effort will continue for up to 10 years and there will be more hurricanes during that time. So, please set aside one week of your life and make a difference in the Hurricane Katrina recovery. We reccommend contacting the Regional Disaster Response Office located in Gateway UMC, 16020 S. Swan Road, Gulfport MS 39503. Ph: 228-539-9332, e-mail: email@example.com. The lives you change might include your own.
Upon Returning to Ohio, we are back to work. Cheryl at OSU and Keith cleaning up from the tree removal and filling in the pool. The lane into camp is looking better and better, but not done yet. We have been given some evergreen seedlings and hope to get them to a permanent planting by the end of this year. Much needs to be done to clean up the top of the hill after the removal of the aging Red Pine trees and the stand of White Pines, some of which fell on the lodge in 2004.
Memorial Day weekend we took a break and relaxed at Agápe (for the most part).
We are still working on completing the necessary documents to begin demolition and reconstruction of the Agápe Lodge roof and researching ways to complete repairs to the roads and clear cut area.
We are awaiting the architect's drawings and final estimate of the roof repair to Agápe Lodge. We will take those drawings to the Licking County Building Department for approval. This will give us a timeline for the repair. Right now, we are anticipating closing Agápe Lodge from the end of May through Labor Day. During the summer, we will keep the Faith Lodge open for small retreat groups and any volunteer work crews who come to help with any projects.
The basic cost of the roof repair is expected to be in the $40,000 plus range, not counting anticipated volunteer labor, interior finishing, and exterior siding. We are looking for mission groups willing to help with demolition and finishing. Please contact us if you can help.
The net income from the timber sales will be around $25,000 before taxes. If the logging companies do not take care of the road adequately, we will need to use some of that money to repair the road. Therefore, we are looking for fundraising ideas as we are not in a position to borrow the remaining amount of money needed to complete the repairs.
We are in prayer and trust that God will provide. We are already excited with the ability of having a complete perimeter hiking and mountain bike trail. The roof repair to Agápe Lodge is going to allow for higher ceilings throughout, enlarged loft areas, and a kitchen ceiling tall enough for commercial equipment. In January, we purchased a used commercial dishwasher from a senior citizen center in Lancaster for $600. It has a three compartment sink and will be a welcome addition.
By March 10, all the trees had been cut and sent to the mill to make flooring, furniture, and other wood products. The road to Agápe Lodge remains unusable as we await drier, warmer weather and hopefully the replacement of stone and gravel. As the logging operation required access to several peninsulas of land created by deep ravines, we installed culverts which are providing a continuous trail along the southern property line making hiking and even mountain biking more enjoyable.
During approximately four weeks of above average temperature (with no days below freezing in January) and soft ground, 2500 pine trees were cut and dragged down the hill to the parking lot for shredding. This activity removed about a foot and a half of road bed from the driveway up to Agápe Lodge leaving it impassable.
By mid February the bids had been opened and a contract signed to sell 186 hardwood trees throughout Agápe's 33 acres. These trees were selected by the forester for marketability with the goal of leaving a wooded area that is still appealing for hiking and wildlife. By the end of February, the lack of access to Agápe Lodge and Skye Cottage caused us to run out of fuel oil in the Skye Cottage. This resulted in numerous water line breaks, one of which flooded the kitchen and basement restrooms as it went undetected for more than a day.
February 24, the power company cut power to Agápe so the trees around buildings and power lines could be safely harvested. The road was frozen in the morning for the electric crew to drive up take down the lines. By the afternoon the road was a sloppy foot deep in mud, but we were able to pull the utility truck back up the hill with a bulldozer to get the lines reinstalled.
On Feb. 25, Keith took a week off to be a volunteer bus driver for Ohio Northern University's Habitat for Humanity Chapter and helped build a house in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This was his second trip to NC with this group.
On January 13, the first logging operation began. This crew was contracted to clear cut the grove of red pine trees behind Agápe Lodge. As our forester explained, these pine trees were a poor choice for Ohio over 50 years ago. They are better suited for Minnesota. When they reach 50 years old or so, they go dormant and begin to fall over in groups. We were definitely seeing that happen as even the slightest wind was knocking them over creating dangerous partly fallen trees and days of work to keep the trails passable.
Almost a year from the storm damage, we met Ken Burke, of KMB Homevisions in Columbus, who provided an estimate and design for repair that was inspiring and hopefully affordable. He proposed removing the entire roof of Agápe Lodge and putting a single gabled roof from end to end that would solve our pitch problem and be a better long range solution to roof maintenance. At the same time, we contacted our forester to see how soon we could begin selling trees.
The end of summer brought on the onslaught of hurricane season at the Gulf Coast. Our thoughts and prayers turned away from our own situation in Ohio and we formed a mission trip with the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission and traveled to Waveland, Mississippi, in November. On that trip, we shared our story with fellow volunteers and one of them happened to have a son-in-law in Columbus who is a remodeler and he recommended that we contact him. We also thought this may be a good time to get back in touch with our forester to see if the price of timber had come back up.
We contacted several contractors for estimates and designs for Agápe Lodge roof repair. Estimates were coming in over $100,000 for a roof that would solve many issues facing the future of the building. Due to the many additions to the building over the past 50-75 years, the roof lines were not conducive to easy repair. The roof basically needs to have better pitch to allow rain, snow, and ice to run off easily. Also, the current roof design does not allow for good ventilation to avoid condensation on the interior ceilings. The interior ceilings were already molding and warping.
Even though Licking County was declared a disaster area, when we pursued getting assistance, we found that we would only be allowed to spend the money to repair the roof to its previous state. We decided that a repair of that nature (approximately $20,000) would not serve Agápe in the long run and that sum of money should be used toward repairs that would allow easy maintenance in the future.
Therefore, we turned to Agápe itself to fund the roof repair. We hired a forester to manage a timber sale. Knowing we couldn't afford the $100,000 plus repairs, we decided to see how much we could get from the trees and then try to find a contractor closer to our price range. Unfortunately, the bottom fell out of the timber market and the forester advised us not to sell trees at that time.
December 2004 Storm
About the Damage
The Agápe Lodge had a minimum of five trees/limbs go through the roof and end up inside the building. Over ten trees with a 12-18" diameter fell on the building leaving a lot of debris on top of the roof. The Pine Cottage has one tree through the roof that was stopped by the concrete floor and another laying across the other end of the building. The Fern Cottage survived with trees just falling on the deck. One limb fell on the bridge causing minor damage to the railing and lattice on one side. Power lines were severed from the parking lot to Agápe Lodge and from the Hope Cottage across the ravine to the Skye Cottage.
The camp was without power for eight days. The main buildings which are year-round were not winterized and even with attempts to drain water lines, we were too late. Fortunately, only one pipe in the main lodge kitchen burst. In the Faith Lodge, a pipe in the kitchen burst in the wall. We have repaired that pipe and have the kitchen operable. When we are back on our feet in Agápe Lodge, we will renovate the Faith Lodge kitchen and bathroom to help avoid this the next time.
Trees throughout the camp are uprooted, snapped off at the top, or leaning and ready to fall. All roads throughout the camp were blocked by trees or limbs. The line of trees along the lane is pretty much history. The water in the creek ran high and continued to rise as the snow and ice melted, along with record rainfall. A very large, uprooted tree is now wedged under the bridge causing the current to shift and start wearing on the bridge supports.
Please keep Agápe Retreat Center in your prayers as we work to clear debris and make repairs. Due to the distance from the nearest fire station we have been unable to find an insurance provider willing to write a policy. If you know a casualty insurance company which might carry us in the future, please let us know.
Storm Photo Gallery
Click on any image in the gallery below to see a larger version of that image.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is
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